Business plans are a work in progress. Think of them like a lens on a camera that is out of focus. At first, you describe what you can see and as you work to bring the lens into focus, it becomes clearer and clearer. My Bite-Size Arts Ensemble has been going through this exact process. Finally, I have been able to move the lens of the camera to a place where I can see a sharp and clear image, thanks to my trip to Italy.
As a highly trained artist I have been taught to get things right on the first take. When I strive for that in the business world I find myself impatient and frustrated.
Business plans typically do not work well at first. In fact most plans fail, as do most small start-ups, because their creators do not take the time needed to sharpen their vision before they start spending time and money. The biggest financial mistakes are usually made at the very beginning of a venture.
My goal for Bite-Size has always been to promote the arts in a new way and build a solid audience base. Finally the pieces are coming together to do just that.
I have the musicians ready to play when called on, I have several venues identified, but need to still find more. I have a board of directors assembled to help make decisions for the organization, and I have worked to develop some potential donors to initially fund the organization.
I have a former student, who works for Edelman PR in Chicago, hired to build a PR campaign to tie Build A Blue Bike and The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble together. I also have the assistance of a recently graduated freelance journalist to help identify newspaper and magazine contacts and write articles, who too shall be paid. Recently I have identified a professional photographer who will creatively contribute to the actual production development in exchange for recognition and the cost of film. I am now in pursuit of a filmmaker who will also creatively contribute to the production.
I must raise enough money to pay for the promotion of the ensemble. Fortunately, my board will donate money to help with this as soon as I ask them to.
My very next steps are to build the website and build a PR campaign in the City of Chicago. The PR campaign will initially focus on asking for submissions from artists, in any discipline, who excel at their art form, but need help developing the business and marketing aspect. A panel of judges will select these artists, and over the course of 6 months, a production will be built to entertain, enlighten and educate our audiences to the possibilities in the arts. This production will initially be showcased in different venues around the city of Chicago, with the goal of taking it on the road. My ultimate goal is to build workshops in universities for students to build their own Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, creating a franchise paid for in creative currency.
Just like my book, the development of this concept has been a slow, agonizing process. Every aspect of its development must fit all my various interests, purposefully help others and have the ability to generate an ample amount of income. For me, these are the rules of entrepreneurship in the arts.
I believe this ensemble and my concepts are original. By promoting the ensemble alongside my book, I create human interest stories that will attract an audience. Audiences love to get close to artists. By promoting the ensemble production as part of what I offer in services to those who hire me to speak and do workshops, I also believe I will be able to attract grant money and certainly donations from individuals for the development and service of helping artists thrive. I also believe I will inspire schools to build their own Bite-Size Arts Ensemble and maybe even rethink the content of courses offered, to help graduates with a degree in an artistic endeavor thrive.
As an artist who has been highly trained and repeatedly asked to get it right the first time, the process of working slowly through all these issues and allowing them to find their resonating spot has been very difficult for me. I am impatient and have been trained to do things well, quickly and the first take– not an easy thing for me to live up to in business.
It has been a blessing and a curse for me to have such high expectations of what I can accomplish. A blessing, because I shoot for the top and have the discipine to reasonably think I can get there; from learning how to develop an art form to a high level. It has also been a curse, because business simply does not work that way.
It takes time to build something of worth and value. You must often stumble, trip, do a 180 and be unsure. Through planning and research, if you do these things, you discover what will work and what won’t and must adapt accordingly. Thus one’s emotions and passions must not be the entire guiding force. The plan must be well defined to financially support your passion and emotion and allow it to flow like a river into the venture’s structure.
When you learn to combine entrepreneurship with creative passion, you learn the power of both business and art. You also learn when you need to think like a business person– allowing yourself the room to trip, stumble, sit still and adapt.
You also learn when the time has come to allow your creativity to set you free and float over what all that pondering has produced as a financial vehicle- your foundation from which to build your creative venture. I am done pondering The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble. A foundation has been built and now comes the time to have some creative fun!